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What are Reciprocal Membership Programs (with Five Examples)

What are Reciprocal Membership Programs (with Five Examples)

Reciprocal membership programs are partnerships between businesses of the same industry that mutually benefit by offering a discount to members of one business if they show their membership card from another business as proof.

Reciprocal membership programs give members access to special perks and advantages while at the same time increasing customer loyalty among each partner’s customer base. Reciprocal membership programs are not exclusive or closed lists; any business may join, and there are no set rules as to what benefits each member must receive.

These programs come in many forms and can be tailored to meet the needs of individual businesses. Let’s take a look at some examples of reciprocal membership programs with details on the benefits each of these can provide for members.


What is a Reciprocal Membership Program

The reciprocal membership program was developed to help smaller businesses within the same industry compete with larger companies by allowing customers to take advantage of the benefits of two membership cards with just one purchase.

A reciprocal membership program is a partnership between multiple businesses in a single industry that offers members of one special business benefits if they show proof of membership from another business.

Reciprocal membership programs are not limited to one industry, and they typically include membership cards from museums, aquariums, convention and visitors’ bureaus (CVBs), zoo associations, parks, botanical gardens, and other types of attractions.

A reciprocal membership program may be limited to businesses in a single geographical area or span the entire globe.


The Benefits of Reciprocal Memberships

By joining a reciprocal membership program, you’re increasing your customer loyalty and brand awareness as well as gaining traffic to your business from others. Members will become more loyal to your business if they’ve already visited another partner in the program.

Some benefits include:

  • Provides a Sense of Community
  • Encourages Sharing
  • Provides Redemption Opportunities

A reciprocal membership program creates a sense of community among members. Visitors will feel like they’re a part of something larger when they can see how their membership benefits other businesses.

Members sharing their benefits with others also encourages others to sign up for the program, which increases the number of members in the program overall. The more benefits members receive from the program, the more likely they are to renew their memberships and recommend the program to others.

Five Examples of Reciprocal Membership Programs

There are a few different options to choose from when it comes to reciprocal membership programs.

We have five examples of reciprocal membership programs, including:

  • Association of Zoos and Museums
  • Thousand Trails
  • ACM Children’s Museum Reciprocal Network
  • Merlin Pass Annual Membership
  • Association of Science and Technology Centers Travel Passport Program

Again, there are plenty of different reciprocal membership programs out there, but these are a few of our favorites.

AZA (Association of Zoos and Museums)

The AZA (Association of Zoos and Museums) is a nonprofit organization that connects zoos and aquariums as well as related museums. More than 200 AZA facilities, including zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks, are members.

The AZA Reciprocal Program allows members of participating facilities to receive free or discounted admission to other participating facilities. The program is strictly for those affiliated with a zoo or museum. You can’t join to get a discount at zoos and aquariums.

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails is a nationwide RV hook-up camping community that offers a reciprocal program for its members. The program allows you to visit more than 400 campgrounds that are part of the Thousand Trails network, and you’ll receive a 10% discount on your campground stay.

To participate in the reciprocal program, you must be a member of the RV camping community. Joining the program gives you 24/7 access to a nationwide database and the ability to book a stay at any Thousand Trails campground and pay the discounted rate.

ACM Children’s Museum Reciprocal Network

The ACM Children’s Museum Reciprocal Network is a website that connects members of various children’s museums that are part of the ACM (Association of Children’s Museums).

You can join the reciprocal program as an individual or as a family, and you’ll receive discounted or free admission to other museums as well as access to online activities. The program includes more than 200 members, including children’s museums, science centers, aquariums, and zoos.

Merlin Pass Annual Membership

Merlin Pass is an annual pass program for fans of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. Members of the annual pass program receive free or discounted admission to more than 25 attractions, tours, and experiences in the UK and Ireland.

The reciprocal program includes attractions like the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, and Sea Life Aquarium. You can visit as many attractions as you’d like with your Merlin Pass, making it a great value if you plan on visiting multiple attractions.

ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) Travel Passport Progam

The ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) Travel Passport Program is an annual membership that allows you to visit any of the more than 100 STEM-related museums in the program.

The ASTC Travel Pass is very similar to the Merlin Pass in that it gives you access to many different museums around the world. Children, teens, and adults receive a savings of 50% on general admission, and there’s also a Military Pass that offers a 50% savings with no expiration date.



The reciprocal membership program is a great way for your business to increase customer loyalty, brand awareness, and traffic. Joining a reciprocal membership program is ideal for smaller businesses that might not be able to afford a marketing campaign on their own. To find a reciprocal membership program that fits your family’s needs, check out Pass Pro.